When I was seven-years-old a group of older boys racially abused me telling me among other things to “go back to my own country”, but I was born in England and have lived here all my life.
They made me feel like I shouldn’t be here and it was deeply upsetting to both myself and my family.
I now realise I was a victim of hate crime and I think it was that early experience which inspired me to become a Community Cohesion Champion with Bedfordshire Police.
We recently made a video which the force sent out to schools to reach hundreds of thousands of children across the county and other parts of the region to teach them about hate crime during National Hate Crime Awareness Week.
The film was shown to pupils in year five and above. It was created to raise awareness of what is hate crime, how it affects victims and how to report it. Bedfordshire Police and the education charity the Anne Frank Trust asked us to contribute towards the video, so it’s made by young people, for young people.
It’s entitled #WeHateHateCrime and we planned, scripted and appeared as actors in the film with dramatisations which are relatable to young people. Schools can incorporate the video into their classroom learning to encourage discussions around how hate crime impacts victims and who can report and where they can report any hate crimes either as a victim or witness, encouraging victims not to suffer in silence.
The film was very positive in spreading awareness that hate crime is not ok and shouldn’t be part of daily life. People should not demonstrate prejudices against others based on their identity, something a victim cannot change and shouldn’t have to.
I believe in our current society it is crucial young people such as myself realise we can make a positive difference to our community and help shape the world we live in.
Being a part of this programme has been truly inspirational and allowed me to get involved with my community, meet new people and learn new things. Being a champion opens new doors to amazing opportunities and has definitely made an impact on who I am as a person. It teaches you life skills you will continue to apply beyond the programme and allows you to take part in something bigger and help make a change to the world around you.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my year as a champion, as well as making the video and being interviewed by the local TV and radio stations about it, other highlights included: we held a diversity event to celebrate our differences as well as strengthening the unique bond we hold as a community. We worked with the Anne Frank Trust to spread awareness of hate crime and how together we can build tolerance through respect and understanding. We also learnt about roles within the police force and what it takes to keep our community safe.
I am beyond grateful for the skills I have gained through out this incredible experience and the people I’ve met.
Tehminah is a Community Cohesion Champions, who are a group of 13 to 15-year-olds interested in policing and supporting their communities.
If you are interested in learning more about the role contact community.cohesion@Bedfordshire.pnn.Police.uk for more details.
To find out more about what Bedfordshire Police is doing to tackle hate crime visit our website.